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Finding Students’ ‘Voice’ on STEM as part of Cisco’s Day of Action

Later this week, four dozen high-school students will gather in an auditorium in North San Jose.  They will stand before a panel of judges, not to sing the latest pop song for The Voice or American Idol, but to blow judges away with their proposals for the next big thing in technology, as part of Cisco’s STEM Mentoring Day of Action.

After spending time with engineer mentors and seeing cutting-edge technologies, the students will be divided into small teams.  Their task:  develop an innovative proposal for the Internet of Everything, the next wave of the Internet, which is the connection of people, processes, data and things to the Internet.

This event is not a one-time occasion.  It’s part of Cisco’s enduring commitment to preparing the next generation for careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — STEM.  This week, nearly 200 students will attend STEM mentoring events at three Cisco campuses in San Jose; Richardson, Texas; and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

The goal at all three facilities is the same – to ignite a passion for science, technology, engineering, and math among students. You see, something amazing happens when you put technology in the hands of young people. It opens their eyes to the incredible possibilities that a career in high-tech can offer.

Cisco’s commitment in this area goes back nearly two decades with the Cisco Networking Academy, which has taught over 5 million students around the world the fundamentals of how networks work and providing them the opportunity to become certified, the key to obtaining a good paying job in this field.

This commitment extends to classrooms, where we’re working with schools and the Federal Government to see that every K-12 classroom in America has high-speed Wi-Fi over the next five years.  Cisco is also providing funding for innovative programs – like the MIND Research Institute – which is fundamentally changing how math is being taught in underserved communities from coast to coast.  And their results have been nothing short of amazing –with students doubling and tripping their math proficiency scores in a few short years.

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Efficient Giving

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported that US manufacturing productivity’s average annual rate of growth (AARG) from 2007 to 2010 is 2.0%. In addition, the report cited that from Jan 1972 to August 2010, the number of people employed in US manufacturing jobs fell from 17,500,000 to 11,500,000 while manufacturing value rose 270%.

Upon reading these statistics, I began to reflect on how technology has radically changed every facet of how we live, work, and connect with each other. I began to ponder, if we could measure and plot our country’s “compassion curve” against the Information Age (circa 1975 – present) would it reflect the same growth and efficiency gains that have been realized by our manufacturing sector? Could we conclude that our society has become increasingly more insensitive and greedy, or more compassionate and giving? Read More »

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Taking Risks

Feel the fear and do it anyway is a commonly used phrase when trying to persuade someone to try something new. It may seem like a cliché but taking risks can actually bring great rewards.

A friend of mine has recently returned from volunteering in Asia. Someone who is normally afraid of spiders at home chose to live and work in the middle of the jungle. She slept in a hammock, had to regularly check her sleeping bag for scorpions and lived side-by-side with a whole host of dangerous insects and animals with only 12 other people around her.  The task was not only physical but mentally very challenging as well.

I’m pleased to report that she survived, and not only that, she loved it! She wasn’t the only one taking on the new challenge, people from several countries and all walks of life chose to volunteer and work together as part of a team. They went into the unknown, becoming friends with people they would never normally meet back home and putting their all into whatever work was presented to them. The results, my friend says, were remarkable and the experience will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

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